Articles Posted in Verdicts and Settlements

Federal prosecutors have announced that Good Samaritan Hospital in Baltimore has agreed to pay the federal government nearly $800,000 in order to settle allegations that it submitted false claims to health benefits programs between January 2005 and December 2008.

The government alleges that Good Samaritan claimed malnutrition as a secondary diagnosis, throwing off the results of its coding system, and making its patients appear worse than they actually were. In doing this, the federal government claims that the hospital was able to receive more money from the Health Services Review Commission in reimbursements than it should have.

The settlement states that Good Samaritan was reimbursed for inflated rates that the hospital submitted. Good Samaritan, of course, denies the allegations.

The Severna Park Fitness and Health Blog, published by Club One Fitness in Millersville, has a post today on a Maryland Daily Record article written by Danny Jacobs involving a woman who sued the Maryland Athletic Club (“MAC”) over a theft that occurred at the club. The case was settled by the Maryland Athletic Club just before it went to trial in Baltimore City earlier this month.

I’m surprised the Maryland Athletic Club did not file a motion for summary judgment based on what I’m sure is a clause in their contract that says they are not responsible for thefts at their gym even if the theft is due to the Maryland Athletic Club’s negligence. (I’m assuming, I have never read the MAC’s contract.) Accordingly to Seigneur v. National Fitness Inst., Inc., 132 Md. App. 271(2000), this is permissible contract language.

Elsewhere, I have talked about how so many silly cases in Maryland find their way to Circuit Court which decreases average jury verdicts in Maryland well below the national average. This is yet another example.

On John Bratt’s Baltimore Injury Lawyer Blog, he publishes a comment written by an opposing lawyer -State Farm in-house counsel – about a case they tried that John blogged about last month.

I think this post underscores the problem: State Farm lawyers believe they are beating us in lawsuits when we are getting jury verdicts far in excess of the offers in this case. Maybe they are. But if we get a verdict that is 8 times the State Farm offer and State Farm’s lawyers think they won, what exactly does that say about the fairness of their offer?

According to a Jury Verdict Research study that came out this week looking at jury verdicts from 2000 to 2006, Oklahoma would at first glance appear to be an awful place for lawyers to try personal injury cases. The median compensation award in trial in Oklahoma is $6,824 and plaintiffs receive a recovery in only 43% of personal injury cases that go to a jury. Compared to the national data, these figures are awful.

If you are an Oklahoma personal injury lawyer with a seriously injured client, does this mean you do not have a fair chance of getting a fair and meaningful recovery for your client’s injuries? I don’t think so. A full 10% of verdicts in personal injury cases in Oklahoma were for $500,000 or more. While to some extent this is comparing apples to oranges, only in 1% of motor vehicle accident cases in Maryland does the jury award more than $500,000.

This number of significant jury awards leads me to believe that Oklahoma juries may not be awarding significant damages in soft tissue injury cases or other cases where the harm may be less significant, but they will often give fair compensation to the people that really do need it the most: people who lives have been forever changed due to the negligence of someone else.

A federal jury in Waco, Texas has awarded six million dollars in a truck accident case to a man critically injured when his motorcycle collided with a tractor-trailer in March, 2006. The plaintiff lost four fingers on his left hand and can no longer walk without assistance because of injuries to his left leg.

The case most likely went to trial because there appears to be a meaningful defense on the question of liability. Plaintiff claimed he was changing lanes when the tractor trailer struck him and knocked him off his motorcycle. Defendants argued that Plaintiff entered an entrance ramp and simply drove into the big rig.

Nine times out of ten, these he said/she said truck accident cases come down to who the jury believes. I’d be willing to bet that the trucking company’s insurance company would have offered a great deal more to settle the case if it had been a car instead of a motorcycle because jurors are so skeptical of motorcycle riders. But in this case,the insurance company and their truck accident lawyers bet wrong to the tune of $6 million.

Two recent medical malpractice cases regarding emergency room physicians raise the question of who should a patient trust for their ultimate diagnosis after an emergency room visit.

The first case involves a woman who was awarded $10 million for the death of her 73 year old husband whose premature death she claimed was a result of the negligent treatment of an emergency room physician for failing to administer anti-clotting medication for more than 2 hours after he presented to the ER suffering a heart attack in 2003. However, her husband lived 3 more years after this ER visit and had a heart transplant in 2006. His immediate cause of death was an infection he got a month after the transplant (a known and common risk with all transplants).

The second case involves a jury verdict of $5 million dollars to the family of a man who died from an aortic rupture which was undetected by an emergency room physician. The decedent in this case, age 30, presented to the Swedish Medical Center in Washington and was prescribed heartburn medication and sent home. Two days later, he went to the University of Washington emergency room and an aortic tear was diagnosis and he died shortly thereafter of a heart infection. Evidence was presented that the tear should have been detected.

Metro Verdicts Monthly’s graph this month just came across my desk. This month, the publication looks at median settlements and verdicts in all civil rights cases in Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Virginia since 1987. The median civil rights award in Maryland is $90,000. The median in Washington DC is $100,000. Incredibly, and I have no explanation for this, the median in Virginia is $200,000, more than 100% greater than the civil rights verdicts and settlement in Maryland.